TARGETING PROTECTED FACILITIES A WAR CRIME
Targeting civil infrastructure and protected facilities didn’t bother some in the West until UN schools are targeted. Well, it bothered but it didn’t bother enough. Now, apparently that threshold has been reached. There is no excuse for not doing this long before now, but at least it is in the works. This report will be more damning than Goldstone’s.
23 July, IMEMC
UNRWA has strongly condemned the recent Israeli shelling of one of its schools serving as a shelter for hundreds of displaced Palestinians, in central Gaza. The UN Human Rights Council has launched a probe into Israel’s actions in the region.
“At approximately 16:55 hours Tuesday, UNRWA’s Maghazi Preparatory Girls School, in the Maghazi refugee camp where approximately 300 internally displaced people had sought refuge was struck by explosive ordnance believed to have been fired by Israeli forces. One person, a child, was injured in the shelling incident. We have raised this shelling incident with the Israeli authorities,” said UNRWA in a press release published by WAFA Palestinian News & Info Agency.
“This morning, when UNRWA officials went back to investigate the incident, there was further shelling of the school, seriously endangering the lives of UN humanitarian workers and displaced civilians. This second incident took place at approximately 10:29 hours this morning and was 30 minutes inside the 09:00 to 11:00 hours window of time that had been coordinated with Israeli authorities and the UN to allow freedom of movement for the relevant UN personnel through the Maghzi Camp Area.”
Pierre Krähenbühl, Commissioner-General of UNRWA, is reported to have said: “This is a serious violation of United Nations’ premises that could have had far-reaching human consequences. All UNRWA facilities are clearly marked with a UN flag. The location of the school and the fact that it was housing internally displaced persons had been formally communicated to Israel on three separate occasions. We have called on the Israeli authorities to carry out an immediate and comprehensive investigation.”
Furthermore, director of UNRWA Operations Robert Turner said: “Our teams are already working flat out to meet the huge demand created by this escalation in violence, and it is absolutely critical that all parties to the conflict respect the neutrality and inviolability of our premises. Operating in this challenging environment is difficult enough; we need to be assured that staff and beneficiaries can enjoy safety and security within our premises. Civilian lives must not be put at further risk.”
According to WAFA’s report, UNRWA schools are now essentially serving as IDP camps, addressing the needs of some 118,000 internally displaced people who have taken refuge in 77 of the Agency’s schools throughout the Gaza Strip.
This number has increased from 50,000 only two days ago, WAFA stated.
As of January 2014, there were approximately 5.4 million Palestinian people registered as refugees in various parts of the world, by UNRWA’s count. Palestinians now make up the largest refugee group in the entire world, and the numbers are increasing daily, in alarming increments.
The UN Human Rights Council has launched a probe into the Israeli offensive on the Gaza Strip, supporting Palestinian efforts to hold Israel up to international scrutiny, according to Ma’an News Agency.
The council of 46 backed a Palestinian-drafted resolution by 29 votes. Arab and fellow Muslim countries, joined by Latin American and African nations, along with Russia and China which, incidentally, also has a large Muslim population, were among supporting nations.
The United States again played out its typical role of voting against UN resolutions which hold Israel accountable for it gross violations of international human rights and laws, while European countries abstained in the voting.
Turkish EU Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu recently denounced Western nations and those of the Muslim world for their silence over Israel’s ongoing assault on the Gaza Strip which has, so far, claimed nearly 700 lives — mostly civilians — including entire families of men, women, infants, small children, elderly and disabled, as soldiers target homes, municipal facilites, hospitals, mosques …and, now, again, schools.
Thirty-one Israelis, all but two of them soldiers, have also died in the fighting, according to Ma’an, in addition to a foreign civilian worker who died Wednesday after being hit by mortar fire, while serving food to soldiers in southern Israel.
Tens of thousands of Palestinian supporters have gathered, in recent days, to take part in mass demonstrations, across the globe, against the Israeli military’s ongoing and merciless assault on the Gaza Strip.